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Man Accused Of Killing 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes Denies Involvement In Shooting, Lawyer Says

Jazmine Barnes was riding to a Texas grocery store with her mother and sisters when a car pulled up alongside them and fired shots into the car, fatally wounding her.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

A man accused of shooting and killing a 7-year-old girl in Houston, Texas is now claiming his innocence.

Larry D. Woodruffe, 24, and Eric Black Jr., 20, have both been charged with capital murder for the Dec. 30 slaying of Jazmine Barnes, but Woodruffe — who is accused of firing the fatal shots, while Black is alleged to have been the getaway driver — told police that he was not involved in the act, and said that the only thing connecting him to the crime is Black’s statement, his attorney said, according to KPRC, a Houston-based NBC affiliate.

“My experience is that people have a big motive to get themselves out of hot water,” Woodruffe’s attorney, Lisa Andrews, said, per KPRC. “It is also my experience, after twenty years of doing criminal law on both sides, that shooters don’t give up their gun. And that gun he led cops to was at his house, not my client’s.”

Barnes was riding to the grocery store with her mother and four sisters on the morning of Dec. 30 when another car pulled up beside them, and someone inside began firing shots into their car, leaving Barnes dead and her mother injured. While authorities initially believed that the suspect was a white male in his 40s who drove a red pickup truck, police later began investigating Woodruffe and Black after receiving a tip.

Black was arrested and charged with capital murder on Jan. 5 and admitted to driving the vehicle during the shooting, NBC News reports. He told authorities that Woodruffe was the one who did the actual shooting, and claimed that the pistol Woodruffe used was still at Black's house, according to the outlet. Black gave officials permission to search his residence, and they found a 9 mm pistol with shell casings that matched the ones recovered from the scene, NBC reports.

Woodruffe was arrested on Jan. 5 on unrelated drug possession charges and charged with capital murder on Jan. 8, KTRK reports. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office will decide at a later date whether to pursue death or a life sentence for Woodruffe, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

The shooting appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, with prosecutors stating that Black and Woodruffe did not realize that they’d opened fire into the Barnes family’s car until they saw news reports about the killing later that day, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.

Woodruffe’s attorney filed motions on Thursday requesting that the district attorney’s office adhere to a code of professionalism, while the other asked for a change of venue, citing concerns about a possibly biased jury, KPRC reports.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg said that he does not believe bias will be an issue, and stated that they “expect to be able to draw a fair panel and get a fair jury for a fair trial,”  according to the outlet.

[Photo: Harris County Sheriff’s Office]

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